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Marvel Mayhem: Ultimate Goodies

So, maybe you've been wondering where I've been for the past few months. I spend my summers as assistant editor for a little publication called Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook.

What does that mean? It means I spent my summer writing about 25,000 words and editing another 540,000 or so.

Some “light” reading, am I right?

Now that I'm on the other side of my deadline and finished my vacation, I'm getting back on the Gonzogeek horse. That starts with Marvel Mayhem. These days Marvel is busy blowing up universes in its “Secret Wars” storyline. I'm still reading my way through the history and, this week, I revisit the Ultimate Universe as compiled by the fine folks at this website, the Complete Marvel Reading Order. Thus far, I've highly enjoyed these early Ultimate titles, and we'll see if the streak continues.

Let's proceed!

 

8. Ultimate X-Men #2

Publication Date: March 2001

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Adam Kubert

We got a big sweeping tale in the previous issue, which covered the origin story of several of the X-Men, combined with a fight through downtown New York against a slew of Sentinels. This issue is a change of pace—a simple one-off story in the context of the greater narrative, while also providing some insight on Wolverine's back story. Well-drawn, well-told and fast-paced, but not as good as the first issue in my opinion.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

9. Ultimate X-Men #3

Publication Date: April 2001

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Adam Kubert

We get our first legit mutant vs. mutant battle of this series, told in a rollicking trip to Croatia capped by a car stunt that could be lifted from a James Bond script. The splash page cliffhanger at the end was a bit ham-fisted, I thought (they're not going to kill an X-Man so soon into the book, unless, of course, said X-Man was named Morph). Still, lots to like, although the Brotherhood did come out of this looking rather weak in my opinion, at least in the combat that was depicted in the issue.

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

10. Ultimate X-Men #4

Publication Date: May 2001

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Adam Kubert

We slow the pace down for this issue. I particularly enjoyed the nod to Beast's “miracle cure” having a drug trial that turned monkeys' fur blue. Lots of inter-personal interactions taking place. The highlight of this installment is our first real look at Magneto in action, who shows up with a bang—pun intended—and then quickly and eloquently gives the Brotherhood's side during a discussion with Cyclops, who is in fact the focal point of this issue. Not exactly action-packed if that's your thing, but still a very strong read.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

11. Ultimate X-Men #5

Publication Date: June 2001

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Adam Kubert

We go from a slower pace to an incredibly fast one. Lots happens in the first half of this issue, and quite frankly it's a little bit of overload. I would have liked to tease Cyclops' true intentions a bit more, for example. Where the story falters, the art compensates during a mass Sentinel visit to the Savage Land. And it sets the table for what should be a pretty epic conclusion to this introductory arc. Some harrowing panels here... As an aside, Ultimate Jean Grey doesn't waste any time getting down to business, does she?

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

12. Ultimate X-Men #6

Publication Date: July 2001

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Adam Kubert

The art in this arc has been altogether fantastic and that trend continues here with another strong showing. My one complaint, repeated from the last issue, is that the storytelling is just a bit rushed. There's really too much to get packed into these six issues, and Wolverine's status as a double agent gets completely glossed over it seems. I'm definitely enjoying this characterization of Professor X, who is much more calculating than his 616 counterpart.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Arc Rating: 4 out of 5

 

13. Ultimate Spider-Man #6

Publication Date: April 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis & Bill Jemas

Artist: Mark Bagley

Back to young Mr. Parker we go for a new arc. A couple of noteworthy additions to the mythos (J. Jonah Jameson! Web shooters! Spidey sense!) and the debut of the Green Goblin, who's considerably more... physical... than the more traditional version of the villain you may know better. Not a lot of story here, more groundwork being laid, but it's made up for by an awesome and very well-drawn battle between the Goblin and our favorite web slinger.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

14. Ultimate Spider-Man #7

Publication Date: May 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis & Bill Jemas

Artist: Mark Bagley

Spidey fights his first super-villain, this roided up version of the Green Goblin, but other than that there's not a lot to see here. What's here is well drawn and well depicted but I think this Ultimate Goblin takes away from the insidious and sinister qualities that made the original so great.

Rating: 2 out of 5

 

15. Ultimate Spider-Man #8

Publication Date: June 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mark Bagley

We switch gears completely here, putting the Goblin and Harry Osborn in the rear-view mirror as Peter Parker begins his budding career in journalism. Much of this issue is table-setting, although we get a look at another iconic Marvel character (The Kingpin, one of my favorite villains). The J. Jonah Jameson character really shines in this issue.

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

16. Ultimate Spider-Man #9

Publication Date: July 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mark Bagley

The Enforcers make their first appearance in the Ultimate canon, and cross paths with Spider-Man with predictable results. We also get our first look at the Kingpin, who is drawn in … just... enormous scale. Good cliff-hangar at the end as well. I think I'd be frustrated reading this arc in monthly installments, but reading them all at once—or in a TPB—the story flows nicely so far. I also like how they're using the Daily Bugle as a plot device to mention other elements of the larger world.

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

17. Ultimate Spider-Man #10

Publication Date: August 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mark Bagley

Things definitely are heating up in the arc, and this is the best installment yet. We see the debut of Electro, and the Kingpin in action for the first time... both against Spidey, and in a grisly scene between the gargantuan Kingpin and Mr. Big. We also get an appropriate dose of teen angst from Peter Parker, who is not just defeated by Electro but then unmasked. Ultimate-world villains already displaying 100 times the logic of their 616 counterparts.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

18. Ultimate Spider-Man #11

Publication Date: September 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mark Bagley

Love love love the top panel on the final cliff-hangar page. That and some character development involving the Enforcers really help raise the overall rating on this issue. Kingpin being annoyed with the proliferation of masked characters also was amusing.

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

19. Ultimate Spider-Man #12

Publication Date: October 2001

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mark Bagley

Such a great conclusion. Well drawn battle between Spidey and the Kingpin's gaggle of henchmen, with some strong panel constructions creating eye-catching page layouts. The final confrontation between our hero and Kingpin is quite satisfying as well. This was a very solid arc from beginning to end and the first “real” story arc for this incarnation of Spider-Man.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Arc Rating: 3 out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: Comics